Digital Camera Flash - Digital Flash Photography

Automatic flash is a great device for solving everyday lighting problems, but unless used with care it can produce problems of its own in digital flash photography.

Nearly every digital camera is fitted with an automatic flash. Most cameras possess several flash settings for different lighting circumstances. The digital camera flash can be set to automatically trigger when the light conditions are too dim, and there are normally several additional settings for greater control over the flash.

The flash is more often than not integrated into the body of the camera. This is extremely convenient - just shoot the camera and allow the flash to come on if it is needed. There are, nevertheless, a few problems related to the close vicinity between the flash and camera lens.

Red Eye

Digital Camera Flash | Digital Flash Photography

How many times have you seen a photograph of friends or family members where everybody's eyes have suddenly developed a strange red glow. This is known as Red Eye and is caused by the bright light of the flash reflecting back from the thin red blood vessel in the retina of the eye.

In an attempt to overcome the problem of red eye, some cameras have a flash setting which will decrease this effect. This works by firing a small flash before the photograph is taken which causes the iris of the eye to become smaller.

Additional problems caused by integrated flash is a lack of picture depth. Because the flash will illuminate the entire subject, any shadows, which would normally provide a sense of depth, are eliminated causing the picture to look flat.

Both red eye and lack of picture depth can be reduced with a separate flash unit. They can be powered with a 'hot shoe' (a bracket on the camera body) or a cable which synchronizes the flash with the built-in flash of the camera.

By moving the source of the flash away from the lens, added depth is created and the subject's eyes are not directly illuminated. External flash units also give you more options for aiming the flash -- the light can be bounced off other objects for a more subtle effect.

Flashes are available in various strengths, and the power of the flash determines how wide an area that it can light up. Most manufacturers specify the maximum range of a flash which is the distance that can be achieved when the aperture of the camera is fully opened.

The closer a subject is to the flash, the brighter that object will appear. However, problems can occur if you want to capture several people who are at varying distances from the camera. Each person will appear brighter or duller depending on their individual distances To overcome this problem the only solution to this is to pose your subjects so that they are all at the same distance from the flash.

As well as auto mode and red eye reduction mode mentioned above, the majority of digital cameras have several other flash settings such as flash off mode. This can be used to override the flash completely, allowing you to compensate for low light by increasing the aperture opening. Fill flash mode is another useful option which can be utilised when there is a bright light source behind your subject. If that back light is too bright, the actual subject would be too dim. Another mode called slow sync causes the shutter of the camera to remain open for longer than normal. This allows the camera to take in the ambient light after the flash has fired which in turn will create a more natural effect.

With a little creativity, it is possible to achieve some special effects just with the use of the flash settings. For instance, slow sync mode can be used to blur the background of a picture but still keep the subject sharply focused. This effect can be achieved by moving the camera very slightly after the flash has fired.